FAQ

 

Responses to Questions and Concerns from March 7, 2016 Public Hearing

 

 

THE PROCESS


Question: Is it correct that the Second modification of the consent decree, which the city will be adopting, allows for a period of not less than 30 days for public comment, starting from the date all parties sign the document? No. The 30 day public comment period commences following the publication of the Consent Decree Second Modification in the Federal Register which occurs after execution and lodging with the Court.   Unless the comments raise new issues unanticipated by the parties, the parties will ask the Court to approve the Consent Decree Second Modification as presently drafted.

Question: Would a 5-week public hearing process on "Pease vs. Peirce Island" be in accordance with the consent decree timeframe? No. Delaying the bond authorization would jeopardize the recently negotiated agreement with the EPA relative to the Consent Decree deadlines.  The first deadline is to have a construction contractor under contract by July 1, 2016.  That date cannot be met if a vote to authorize the bonding is further delayed because the bidding process needs to commence now and bidders need confidence that funds are available for the project


Question: Why were there no public meetings after 2013? There have been many public meetings on this project since 2013 where the public had an opportunity to provide comment. A list of these meetings was presented to the City Council on March 7, 2016.


Question: Why has there been no public work sessions on the project? There have been many public meetings on this project since 2013 where the public had an opportunity to provide comment. A list of these meetings was presented to the City Council on March 7, 2016.


Question: If the bond for Pierce Island is defeated, would the City then have to pursue Pease under the consent decree by default because it would be almost two years before the next City Council can vote to bond Pierce Island again? Under its rules, the City Council may take up a matter previously acted upon with a two-thirds vote.  The Consent Decree is silent with regard to Pease or any option other than Peirce Island.


Questions: What are the penalties of waiting five weeks to bond Pierce Island? The penalties in the Consent Decree escalate from $500 per day to $1,000 per day depending on the duration of the violation.  Some deadlines have already passed and fines could escalate beyond one million dollars.  A delay would jeopardize the recently negotiated agreement with the EPA.  The first deadline is to have a construction contractor under contact by July 1, 2016.  That date for construction cannot be met if a vote to authorize the bonding is further delayed.  The EPA has demanded an aggressive start date in return for its willingness to accept a construction schedule that avoids evening, night and weekend work.  Expect EPA to move quickly to litigation to levy fines and ask for other relief from the Court if there is further delay.


Question: What are the penalties of waiting two years to bond Pierce Island? See response to the question above.  

 


PEIRCE ISLAND – TREATMENT SYSTEM


Question: Regarding nitrogen removal, where is the written assurance that demonstrates that this plant can go to 3mg/l of nitrogen, monthly average? In the last nine months, the City has been able to confirm that it can obtain a performance guarantee from the BAF manufacturer that the unit will treat down to TN of 3 if necessary.   There will be a performance guarantee in the contract documents.

 

Question: To stay within the fence line, will it be necessary to use methanol if Micro C fails to achieve a monthly average of 8mg/L?  What about 3mg/L?No. Methanol will not be used for supplemental carbon. Micro C which is a non-hazardous product will be used as the supplemental carbon source. The supplemental carbon type has no impact on the fence line.


Question: Are we basing the success of this system, located in a colder New England climate, on the use of methanol to reach a monthly average of 8mg/l and lower? No.


Question: What has changed since the 8/3/15 council meeting at which the nitrogen level could not be guaranteed on a monthly basis while staying within the footprint?  See answer above.


Question: Can you prove in writing that other coastal New England communities using the BAF system can go to 8mg/l on a monthly average? Yes. There are two operating installations in New England that achieve effluent total nitrogen concentrations of 3 mg/L.  


Question: Can the BAF on Peirce Island be guaranteed to get to 5mg/l or 3mg/l without the use of methanol? Yes. Micro C which is a non-hazardous product will be used as a supplemental carbon source.

Question: If we were to build this facility from scratch and had no spatial or PCB constraints how much of this facility would you retain? Unknown, the design of a wastewater treatment facility is very specific to existing conditions.


Question: Has City Staff visited any of the facilities that are using the proposed technology at Peirce Island? The City staff visited facilities at: Southington, Connecticut; Cheshire, Connecticut; Evansville, Illinois; and Heart of The Valley Metropolitan Sewerage District, Wisconsin. In addition staff has discussed operations with the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant by conference.


PEIRCE ISLAND - PCBs


Question: How will the contaminated by-products of the PCB removal get taken off the island? In sealed contaminant transport in accordance with the EPA approved Remedial Action Plan.


Question: The original plan was to demolish the entire building for $9MM; to save costs we are only demolishing half of it. Wouldn't it make sense to completely solve the PCB issue today? No.


Question: Why are we leaving the bottom half of the building for futures generations to deal with?  Encapsulation is an approved method of remediation and there is limited access to the public to the building.


Question: How will the city guarantee there will be no dust from contaminated debris?  Containment methods will be in place during the work in accordance with the EPA approved Remedial Action Plan.
 


PEIRCE ISLAND - ENVIRONMENTAL AND HISTORICAL


Question: Can copies of the NEPA and SHPO reports be put up on the city's WEBSITE in the next day or so? The archaeological report prepared by Independent Archaeological Consulting and submitted to the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources as part of the 106 process is confidential and cannot be placed on the website. Confidentiality is required by RSA 227-C:11 to protect the location of archaeological sites.


Question: Isn't it true that wetlands at Peirce Island are high value wetlands? Did the wetlands permits applied for allow a permanent reduction in wetlands?  Can the permits be posted on the City's WEBSITE for all to see?   The wetlands impacts are temporary and are to upland freshwater wetlands. The permits do not result in any reduction in wetlands. Impacts to wetland are temporary. The wetland permits have been added to the City's website at:  http://www.portsmouthwastewater.com/resources.html#piep.


Question: In a marine environment it takes a long time for vegetation to grow how can we be assured we can keep our mature trees? The construction plans for the staging area to be located at the off leash dog area do not permit removal of trees in this area.  Following completion of construction, the area disturbed by the Contractors operations will be reseeded and the grass restored.

How will the pool water be monitored for environmental impacts? The Contractor will be required to maintain dust control on the site. This may include the use of sweeping vehicles and water trucks to control the dust.The majority of the demolition will be completed during non-pool times.  Pool water is routinely tested.

Question: How do we make sure invasive species (like Virginia creeper which was suggested in one of the reports) not be planted? The Virginia Creeper is not on the State of NH's list of invasive species. The City will continue to have meetings regarding details of the project and there will be an opportunity to comment on the landscape plan. The landscaping will be one of the last parts of the project installed.

 

Question: Wetlands on the island are considered "high intensity" where are the city's plans to protect them? The City is required to protect them in accordance with the wetland permits issued by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and Army Corps of Engineers. The permits are located at http://www.portsmouthwastewater.com/resources.html#piep.


Question: Who will monitor the environmental impacts to the island? City staff and the consultants, scientists, and archaeologists working for the City as required by the permits issued for the project.


Question: What is the city doing to safeguard the historical resources, privately and publicly owned, along the truck routes? No damage is anticipated based on experience with other projects and current traffic makeup along the route.


Question: During construction, will the City allow the Peirce Island Committee to monitor the fence line as well as the protection and fencing for the archeologically rich middens that are required by permit? No because of safety reasons and confidentially of archaeological sites. 


Question: How will the Point of Graves Historic Cemetery be protected? No impacts are anticipated.


Question: How will the city pay for damages and what is the insurance cost? No impacts are anticipated.


Question: How can we be assured the safety of Ft. Washington? A complete historical study was completed to prevent impact to Fort Washington and other archaeological resources. The Contractor's operations will be limited to certain areas.


Question: How can we justify building a road over a preservation site?  A complete historical study was completed to prevent impact to Fort Washington and other archaeological resources.    

       
PEIRCE ISLAND - TRUCKING PATTERNS


Question: Have we prepared the CMMP for the construction?  Could we see that on the city's WEBSITE? No. A CMMP will be developed at a later date.


Question: Does the city have a public safety plan for dealing with ambulances; fire and other emergency vehicles besides having our citizens fend for themselves?  What will be our emergency evacuation route in the event of an emergency at Seabrook or the Navy Yard? No special plan for this project is required or necessary.


Question: Given the amount of noise trucks of the magnitude how are we guaranteed the truck noise will stay within the city noise ordinance? How will the citizens have input into noise concerns during construction? Any concerns related to excessive noise can be brought to the attention of City staff and construction staff contact for resolution.


Question: How many nights during this construction process will the trucks run from 12 midnight to 10 am? We anticipate that the large delivery vehicles will occur infrequently. This may be mitigated by alternative delivery options if found to be feasible.


Question: What kind of support from the city will we have, with traffic delays? None are anticipated. The level of service of the roadway will not be impacted.


Question: What is the additional insurance cost for having this trucking pattern travel though the city? No additional insurance cost will be incurred for transportation issues relative to the project.

Question: Will melting snow from the snow dump cause water pollution from the construction materials being used?  Erosion controls are required to be installed and maintained by the Contractor during the duration of construction to address runoff and snowmelt.  The Contractor is required to prepare and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to control runoff and snowmelt from the construction site.


PEIRCE ISLAND - COST OF UPGRADES


Question: There is $32.8MM allocated to TN8 future costs on slide 21 in a 4/20/2015 PowerPoint that disappears in slide 19 in the presentation given on 4/27/2015. Why was that cost removed and will we have to spend it in the future? The DRAFT slide had incorrect information.  ARCADIS, the City's consultant that was working to assemble and evaluate the costs for the Pease and Peirce Island Options made an error in its calculations and the City identified it prior to the City Council presentation.   ARCADIS was under a time constraint to deliver its work, with data still arriving and being worked into the calculations up to the April 27 Work Session with the City Council.


Question: Why are we not including the pumping stations in the bond? The Mechanic Street Pumping Station is planned for in the City Capital Improvement Plan. An upgrade to the Deer Street Pumping Station was completed in 2006. An upgrade to the Lafayette Road Pumping Station is currently under design.


Question: Why did we not include a replacement bridge in the bond? The City has included the costs of a maintenance project in the bond. This will allow us to keep the bridge in operation until we can secure 80% grant funding from the State for its replacement.


Question: Why did we not include water access to the island by barge? It was investigated and determined to be cost prohibitive. The City may reinvestigate this option as a bid alternate.


Question: What is the additional cost to move the plant to 8 mg/L on a monthly average? This question is unclear. The proposed system will meet the negotiated permit levels. 


Question: What is the additional cost to move the plant to 3 ppm? There are no additional capital costs.


Question: What is the cost of mitigating the PCB's? The cost estimate for PCB mitigation is $700,000.


Question: How much have we paid in legal cost since 2007?  Legal fees related directly to the issuance of the 2007 permit and the 2009 Consent Decree total $230,486.47. 


Question: How much have we paid for engineering cost?
A summary of project costs for engineering services is as follows:


Item

Cost ($)

Wastewater Technology Piloting

$1,842,800

Conceptual Design

$837,500

Prelim and Final Design

$4,833,400

Prelim Design Value Engineering

$124,000

Phase 1 Construction Engineering

$265,000

Traffic Counts & Evaluations

$12,600

Peirce Island Bridge Maintenance

$180,200

TOTAL

$8,095,500

 

 

PEIRCE ISLAND - ECONOMIC IMPACT

Question: Could the economic impact study for this project be posted on the city's WEBSITE?  No.   The construction vehicle traffic will not close streets or create gridlock at intersections.  There will be no sidewalk closures on State Street or Court Street (the major haul routes) or along any other streets other than a small portion of Marcy Street.  The only sidewalk closure will be in front of the players ring on Marcy Street.  Because the negotiated construction schedule limits the need for evening, night and weekend work, the cultural activities and businesses that draw tourists to Portsmouth will be minimally impacted. Therefore, no economic impact study has been done.


Question: How will the city support and promote the businesses on truck route? No impact is anticipated. See response above.


Question: How will the city promote the historical houses? No impact is anticipated. See response above.

Question: How will the city promote and support the arts and entertainment located on the truck route? No impact is anticipated. See response above.

Question: What is the plan for parking for visitors to all the events in the historical areas that will be affected? Only the 11 parking spots adjacent to Prescott Park on Mechanic Street will be eliminated temporarily during construction. The City is investigating means to mitigate the loss of parking on Peirce Island.

Question: Who will guarantee the citizens that there will not be work on holidays? The Contract will stipulate that holidays are not work days. Any deviation requires approval two weeks in advance.

Question: There have been incidents in the past that have caused concern for security issues around hired contractors. How will the residents be protected? Unlike other activities that bring nonresidents into the South End, the Contractors working on the WWTF Upgrade will not be walking into the neighborhood to participate in events or activities.  The potential interaction is no more than currently exists.

 

PEIRCE ISLAND - BLASTING


Question: How will blasting in this environment affect marine life?  Marine life will not be affected.


Question: How will our properties be protected during these blasting sessions? The Contractor will be required to follow the City's blasting ordinance which requires pre-blast conditions survey of the exterior and interior of structures within 500 feet of the blasting, vibration monitoring at private structures within 500 feet of the blasting and vibration limits.

Question: What is the additional insurance cost for blasting is it in the budget? No additional cost to the City, the contractor and blasting subcontractor carry insurance.


Question: How will resident be notified of blasting times?
The Contractor will be required to obtain a blasting permit in accordance with the City Blasting Ordinance. The City's Blasting Ordinance does not require notification to residents of planned blasting.


How will residents who suffer from PTSD be supported during blasting?  The City does not anticipate providing any special services.  Blasting in accordance with the City's Ordinance has been undertaken throughout the City for private and public projects without report of incident.  Modern blasting involves controlled blasting techniques to minimize vibration and blast mats to control debris, posing no risk to residents.

 

PEASE – DESIGN (TREATMENT, PUMPING AND PIPELINES)


Question: Isn't it true the EPA does not care whether Portsmouth builds at Peirce or Pease?  Yes and No. In theory EPA has little interest in location.  EPA is, however, concerned about the City achieving compliance with secondary treatment permit limits as soon as possible and a Pease option could not be completed timely.


Question: Isn't it true the PDA board never formally voted "no" on upgrading, expanding, or building a Pease Water Treatment Plant? Yes.


Question: Isn't it true the Pease Waste Water Treatment Plant is 40% design complete? No.


Question: Isn't it true that other plant locations have been considered for a Waste Water Treatment Plant at Pease? Yes.


Question: Why was the Ransom Consulting report not finished? Unknown, the Pease Development Authority controlled the consultants work.


Question: If the EPA had previously rejected the Pease option (as was stated in the FAQ put out by the city), why was it studied again by the City in 2014? The City Council voted to study this option on October 20, 2014. This vote was made following a presentation from City staff to the City Council on September 29, 2014 which identified concerns including rising costs of the Peirce Island WWTF Upgrade and suggested that the time to consider alternatives was closing.  In addition to cost and regulatory concerns, the City was approached by Exeter and Stratham to pursue regional wastewater treatment opportunities at the Pease WWTF location. This decision was made independent of EPA's support.  The City staff also assumed that if the Pease Option were selected, a more aggressive schedule for completion than that originally proposed in 2010 might have been achievable based on current information.


 Question: It has been stated that the Pease Plant can be updated in the current footprint is this false? There is not enough land area within the current footprint to expand the facility to treat all the City's sanitary wastewater.


Question: What are the steps required to build at Pease and how long would each step take (amount of time to get approval from Pease, amount of time to design, amount of time to bond, amount of time contract, amount of time to construct, …)? The steps to treat all sanitary flows at Pease include planning, design, permitting, bonding and bidding as well as construction and start-up. Start to finish would likely consume eight to ten years keeping in mind that the City would design not only a plant at Pease, but design all plans for piping over to Pease and back to the Peirce Island outfall, rebuilding the Mechanic Pump Station, and converting the Peirce Island Wastewater Treatment Facility to a wet weather facility.  


Question: Please detail the disruptions, including their durations, caused by tearing up the downtown and the south end from the Mechanic Street pumping station to the Deer Street pumping station required to expand the Pease facility. The Mechanic Street Pump Station would be rebuilt on Mechanic Street; an approximately two year project.   It would take approximately four years to construct 3.1 miles of side by side 20-inch diameter sewer force mains from the Mechanic Street Pumping Station to the Pease WWTF on the following streets: Mechanic Street, Marcy Street, Hancock Street, Pleasant Street, Court Street, Fleet Street, Hanover Street, Maplewood Avenue, Deer Street, Russell Street, Market Street, Woodbury Avenue, and Arthur Brady Drive. This alignment would cross multiple utility corridors, bridges and Route 16. A 30-in diameter outfall would be constructed along this same route back to Russell Street and then would weave along Market Street, Bow Street, across the Wright Ave Parking Lot, Marcy Street, Mechanic Street and Peirce Island Road. 


Question: Please detail the disruptions, including their durations, to downtown and the south end that the $30 million or so in deferred maintenance and upgrades that will still have to occur at Pierce Island even if the Pease facility is expanded?
The exact dollar value of this work would have to be defined. For any upgrade or conversion of the facility, the proposed haul routes and construction impacts would be similar to the proposed treatment facility upgrade but for a shorter time period. Recently the City completed a $1.7 million clarifier upgrade without complaint using a normal construction schedule.


Question: Have the previous Pease study's looked into putting pipes in the river from the Deer Street station up? If it is not feasible, why not?
Yes the feasibility of putting pipes into the river was evaluated previously, both as part of the wastewater masterplan and the more recent Pease evaluation of 2014/2015.  Feasibility would need to be further investigated as there are obvious and significant design, permitting and constructability hurdles with this option in addition to significant cost impacts.


PEASE -NITROGEN REMOVAL


Question: Isn't it true that a plant already at secondary treatment can go to 8 ppm with fewer upgrades than one that is not?
Yes.


PEASE - TRUCKING PATTERNS


Question: Isn't it true that the State sent a letter dated April 24th, 2015 agreeing to open an access road for construction on the WWTP at Pease?
The letter stated that the DOT would further discuss this option with the City.


Question: Isn't it true that the CLF's preferred option of working round the clock for two years, which Portsmouth rejected for Peirce Island as unworkable, can be conducted at Pease? No.


Question: Given the ability to move large trucks 24 hours a day why would Pease take a longer time to complete? Twenty four hour per day construction would not be allowed at Pease.


Question: Given the fact that no one lives on Pease why would it not be more advantageous to have the plant there? The Pease Development Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve this option.


Question: Why did the Department of Transportation send a letter agreeing to open an access road to work on the WWTP at Pease if the State did not want this project at Pease? The State did not object to the Pease location.

 


PEASE - COST OF UPGRADES


Question: Isn't it true that that Peirce Island's life cycle cost, at $192.3MM, is $3.4MM more expensive than Pease, at $189MM, over a 20 year term?
No, the numbers were inaccurate.  


Question: Isn't it true that because Pease can use cheaper technologies it is less expensive to operate than space constrained Peirce Island?  How much less annually? The costs are near equivalent because of the operation and maintenance costs of pumping water from Mechanic Street to Pease and back for the Pease Option.


Question: Please provide primary source documents showing that underwater pipes and horizontal drilling techniques were priced and not feasible for the Pease option. See page 49 of the ARCADIS Report on the City's wastewater web site.


Question: What is the true cost of Pease estimated life cycle? $188.9 million.          


Question: Does the city or the PDA receive federal support for mitigating or building on a Super Fund site?  The City does not.  The Pease Development Authority could better answer this question on their behalf.


PEASE - REGIONALIZATION


Question: Pease is an already a regional plant as it has contracts with Newington, Greenland, and Rye -- is it defined as such, and what about Peirce?
 Pease serves only the Pease Tradeport Tenants.  Flows from Newington, Greenland and Rye are treated at Peirce Island.


PEASE - ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT


Isn't it true the city's June 2015 report suggests that the wetlands at the current WWTF at Pease were created from run off from the Spaulding Highway and is therefore low intensity wetlands?
Yes
Is Pease considered an industrial site or a Superfund site?  The Pease Development Authority could best answer this question.


PEASE- HISTORICAL


What historical resources would be damaged by upgrading the Pease WWTP?
  Unknown, no archaeological work has been performed.


PEASE- ECONOMIC IMPACT


Isn't it true that at the April 16, 2015 PDA Board Meeting, where plans were presented for a Pease WWTF, that only Nextera was formally opposed to the plan?  Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital has made known its objection to the Pease option.


Can the original agreement that sets forth which services Portsmouth provides to Pease be placed on the city's WEBSITE, or provided Monday night?  Yes. The files is located at: http://www.portsmouthwastewater.com/resources.html#pdawa.


Question: What do we spend annually on the services we provide for Pease including for Fire Station # 3, wastewater, sewer, drinking water, security, plowing, road upkeep and free water for the golf course to water their greens?  Unknown, not previously calculated.  Not relevant.


Question: It has been stated in the Herald that some tenants oppose the Waste Water Treatment Plant, how is this documented? Meeting notes, emails, etc. available through the Pease Development Authority.


Question: Given the fact that no one lives on Pease and the city could have three shifts what would be the time frame for the completion of Pease? Twenty four hour per day construction would not be allowed at Pease.

 





 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (Posted Prior to March 7, 2016 Meeting)

 

 

Why we are Building at Peirce Island


  • Question: Why are we required to upgrade the Peirce Island WWTF?
    The existing chemically enhanced wastewater treatment technology at the WWTF does not meet the Federal Clean Water Act requirements for secondary level treatment. Although the City was provided a waiver from the Clean Water Act to operate as a primary treatment facility from 1985 to 2007, the City is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade at this time. The City entered into a Consent Decree with the EPA that requires this upgrade and stipulates the timeframe for the upgrade.
  • Question: Can we build a facility at the Pease International Tradeport?

    The City investigated the option multiple times. As part of the City's Wastewater Master Planning process begun in 2008 and completed in 2010, the City evaluated whether to expand the Pease WWTF and convert the Peirce Island WWTF infrastructure to a wet weather facility as an alternative to upgrading the Peirce Island WWTF to provide secondary treatment.   In the draft wastewater master plan report submitted to EPA, the City identified the Pease WWTF expansion and Peirce Island conversion as the preferred alternative.  That Pease option included an extended schedule past 2020 to complete.  In short, the EPA rejected the Pease option because of the extended schedule to complete.  The EPA recommended that the City move expeditiously to upgrade the Peirce Island WWTF to secondary treatment standards. The City Council subsequently agreed to this approach.

    In late 2014 and early 2015 the City reconsidered the Pease Wastewater option. The study concluded that the approach was feasible but the costs to pursue the Pease option would be $41.3 Million to $47.8 Million more to implement due to piping and pumping needs. In addition, because downtown Portsmouth has a combined collection system (stormwater and sewer in the same pipe) the Peirce Island WWTF would remain on Peirce Island for the foreseeable future. On May 18, 2015, the City Council voted to proceed with the planned Peirce Island WWTF upgrade after taking into consideration life cycle costs, potential construction impacts and regulatory complexities.


Project Components, Aesthetics and Performance


  • Question: Will the system treat nitrogen?
    Yes. The new treatment system will include a biological treatment technology called a Biological Aerated Filter (BAF). This system has been designed to remove total nitrogen to a minimum of 8 milligrams per liter (mg/L) on a seasonal basis from May through October and a monthly average of 8 mg/L total nitrogen from June through October each year. The system design allows it to treat to lower levels down to 3 mg/L total nitrogen without expanding the plant any further than the existing fence line if such lower levels of treatment are required in future wastewater permits
  • Question:Will this system meet current and future permits?
    Yes, the treatment facility upgrade will comply with secondary treatment standards, which the City is required to meet by the EPA and the City's Consent Decree with the EPA. The treatment facility will include nitrogen removal and will meet future permits for nitrogen.
  • Question:What will the project look like when it is complete?
    All completed facilities will be within the limits of the existing fence line at the WWTF. See the site plan below. Two existing facilities (Shapleigh Island end of the site) will be demolished for construction of new facilities. There will be two new buildings on the site, one at the entrance to the facility and one near the Shapleigh Island side of the site. The majority of the buildings will have a brick exterior with architectural features. There will be temporary construction measures that require portions of the existing fence to be removed and some trees to be replaced. There are plans for significant landscaping that will incorporate a layered landscape plan with trees and shrubs and exterior crawling ivy type plants to soften the façade. See the rendering below with a vantage point from Pleasant Point.
    Site Plan (Click here)
    Rendering (two pages) (Click here)
  • Question:Will it be within the existing fence line?
    Yes, all completed facilities will be within the limits of the existing fence line at the WWTF. These facilities are designed to treat total nitrogen down to 3 mg/L. See the site plan below.
    Site Plan (Click here)
  • Question: Will there be landscaping?
    Yes, the City has included in the treatment facility upgrade a significant amount of landscaping. During construction, there will be impacts on the periphery of the existing fence line and these impacts will be mitigated with a layered landscaping plan that incorporates native shrubs and trees. In addition, as part of the natural resource permitting, the City will perform a limited invasive species removal program that includes post construction monitoring of regrowth.
  • Question:How high will the BAF building be?
    The new BAF Building will be the most visible and is located on the Shapleigh Island side of the site. The proposed building will be approximately 25 ft above existing grade as determined by vote of the City Council on May 19, 2014. This is 8 ft higher than the existing building that is in that location now and will be demolished. See attached a rendering of the proposed Biological Aerated Filter Building depicted from the view from Pleasant Point.
    Rendering (two pages) (Click here)
  • Question:Will the system have more odors?
    No, the new system includes multiple state of the art odor control systems designed and located strategically to control and minimize the potential for release of odors. The new plant will have less potential odors than the existing plant. However, like all wastewater treatment systems, there is a potential for odors from the treatment system.
  • Question:Will the treatment facility flood if sea level rise occurs?
    No, even under the highest potential flood conditions, the treatment facility will not be flooded. Near the facility entrance the elevation is 34.0 ft. Near the BAF building on the Shapleigh Island side of the site, the elevation is 21.0 ft. The 100 year flood elevation is 8.23 ft. The City's Coastal Resiliency Study identifies the potential flooding in the area of the South End and Peirce Island and can be seen at http://www.planportsmouth.com/cri/maps.html.

Project Costs


  • Question:What it the total project cost?
    The total project cost is estimated to be $83.8 million. This includes the cost of design engineering, construction and contingency, and construction oversight for the project. See a breakdown of the project costs taken from the February 16, 2016 City Council Meeting regarding the first reading of a bond resolution for the project.
    Cost Summary(Click here)
  • Question:Are the costs of roadway impacts included?
    No, the roadway (hauling route) costs are not included in the project. There is normal wear and tear occurring on the City's roadways every day. This includes construction traffic and other large vehicles that are open to use the City's streets. The Department of Public works evaluates the condition of the City's streets annually using a Pavement Condition Index (PCI). The PCI is used to plan for roadway rehabilitation and replacement programmatically through the City's Capital Improvements Plan. Repairs and improvements to these streets will be assessed in the manner outlined above. This is consistent with the approach used for other City construction projects such as the Library and Middle School.
  • Question:Are the costs of the Peirce Island Road Bridge maintenance included?
    Yes, the cost of the maintenance project is included in the project cost. The Peirce Island Road Bridge has exceeded its intended service life and it has been recommended that the City plan long term for its replacement. The City intends to take advantage of grant funding available through the Department of Transportation's Bridge Aid Program. The City has an application in for this grant funding that is awaiting approval but it is anticipated the funding is not available until after the year 2022. This will provide 80 percent grant funding to the City and could save the City over $6 million. In order to extend the life of the bridge to take advantage of the State funding and to address its aged condition, the City is moving forward with a maintenance project to repair the bridge deck in advance of the WWTF construction. It is estimated this project will cost up to $800,000. Moving forward with this work now is necessary even without the WWTF project; this maintenance will extend the life of the bridge to take advantage of the grant funding and prevent the potential need for repairs during construction of the WWTF. The cost of the bridge maintenance project will be included in the overall cost of the Peirce Island WWTF project.
  • Question:Are pool house costs included?
    No, the pool house costs are not included in the project but are identified in the FY 17 Capital Improvements Plan for FY 2022.

Project Schedule, Funding and Next Steps


  • Question:How does the City get a contractor for this work?
    The City selects a contractor to build this project in a two-step process. First, through a public advertisement the City requests Prequalification Statements from potential contractors to demonstrate their experience and financial capability to undertake a project of this size and complexity. The City evaluates the submitted statements and identifies contractors that are qualified. In the second step, the project is advertised for bids and the City provides the plans and specifications for the project to the prequalified contractors. The prequalified contractors prepare their sealed bids for the work and submit them to the City. The City reviews and evaluates the submitted bids and the construction of the project is awarded to the lowest, prequalified bidder.
  • Question:How long will construction take?
    The construction documents require that the construction of the project will be substantially completed within 47 months of the date that the construction contract between the City and the contractor is signed and fully completed within 51 months. Assuming a contract is signed on July 1, 2016 the substantial completion date would be in May 2020 and fully completed by September 2020. Between May and September the Contractor will be completing punch list items, cleanup and other items such as landscaping.
  • Question:How does the funding process work?
    The City intends to use both City bond funds and assistance from the State of New Hampshire's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). On August 5, 2013, the City Council voted to authorize a bond resolution in the amount of $10 million for the portion of the project cost being paid for through local bond funds. Debt repayment is paid for with sewer use fees. The City plans to borrow up to $75 million through a loan from the CWSRF, and pay the loan back over a 20 year period using funds from the sewer use fees. This will allow the City to lock in a low interest rate for the life of the loan and minimize the impact on projected sewer user rates. A portion of the funds borrowed from the CWSRF will be "forgiven" and will not need to be repaid, reducing the cost to the City by approximately $3.75 million. The City Council will vote whether or not to move forward with the authorization of this bond resolution at the March 7, 2016 meeting.

Construction Impacts


  • Question:What are the hours that construction will be allowed?
    As currently allowed for in the City's Noise Ordinance, construction will be allowed between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. Construction outside of these timeframes will be necessary at certain times during the project. The Contractor will be required to request authorization for work outside of these hours in advance. Construction will be prohibited on City Holidays without prior approval by the City.
  • Question:How are construction vehicles being managed?
    All construction traffic is required to follow specified routes to and from the site. See the designated traffic management plan below. These routes have been selected by the City to minimize the impact of construction vehicles on traffic Downtown and in the South End. Construction vehicle parking and Contractor staging is prohibited outside of designated areas on Peirce Island. If the Contractor needs additional space for construction vehicle parking, they will be required to secure additional parking at a location off of Peirce Island.
    Traffic Management Plan (Click Here)
  • Question:What will be the impacts during construction?
    The public impacts of the construction of the WWTF Upgrade project include construction noise during the workday, an increase in construction traffic during the workday, temporary loss of public space on Peirce Island, and temporary loss of parking along the construction route and on Peirce Island.
  • Question:How will the construction impacts be managed?
    Public space and parking that will not be available during construction will be fenced and/or signed off. Temporary paths will be added between the Four Tree Island Parking Lot and the Peirce Island Pool to provide access to the pool during construction. Temporary changes to traffic patterns will be noted with signage as necessary.
  • Question: How much noise will construction make?
    The contractor will be required to comply with the City's Noise Ordinance, which allows construction between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. As allowed for in the City's Noise Ordinance, construction outside of those hours may occur with prior approval by the City. It is anticipated that construction outside of these timeframes will be necessary at certain times during the project. The Contractor will be required to request authorization for work outside of these hours in advance. Construction will be prohibited on City Holidays without prior approval by the City.
  • Question:Will there be blasting for rock excavation?
    Yes, blasting will be required for rock excavation. The Contractor will be required to adhere to City's Blasting Ordinance which requires the Contractor to attempt pre- and post-blast surveys and blast monitoring of private property within 500 feet. Blasting will be halted if blast monitoring shows vibrations outside of the limits in the City Ordinance. By City Ordinance, blasting will only take place between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M, Monday through Friday.
  • Question:Will the City's snow dump remain open during construction?
    Yes, the Contractor will be required to relocate any staged equipment during the winter months so that the City's snow dump can be used for snow removal from the Downtown.
  • Question:Was Using Water Transport of Materials (Barges) Considered?
    Yes, the City's consultants investigated using barges as an alternative to trucks to transport materials to the site of the WWTF. However, it was determined that this would increase the overall cost of the project by approximately $2 million to $3 million. The contract documents allow any contractor flexibility to use this as an option during construction if they determine it to be feasible.


Recreation Impacts


  • Question:Will the public boat launch remain open?
    Yes, the public boat launch will be open during the full course of the construction project. There will be fewer parking spaces available on the island during construction. Parking in the snow dump area will not be available and there will be no parking in spaces on the road across from the boat launch parking lot. The City is planning for deck maintenance on the Peirce Island Road Bridge. This will require lane width restrictions that may cause temporary impacts to certain size boats to the boat launch. The City will coordinate with the Recreation Department and Harbor Master and issue Press Releases on this item.
  • Question:Will the off leash dog area remain open?
    No, the off leash dog area will be closed for the duration of construction. This area is needed for Contractor staging and operations. The exact date when this area will be closed is unknown at this point but is likely to be soon after the anticipated contract execution date of July 1, 2016. The City will issue future press releases on this item. Any areas impacted by the Contractor's operations will be restored.
  • Question: Will the walking trails remain open?
    No, the trails will be closed for the duration of construction. The exact date when this area will be closed is unknown at this point but is likely to be soon after the anticipated contract execution date of July 1, 2016. The City will issue future press releases on this item. Any areas impacted by the Contractor's operations will be restored.
  • Question: Will the public pool remain open?
    Yes, the public pool will remain open during the course of construction. The WWTF contract documents require that the contractor leave the pool parking lot open through the end of August 2016. The parking lot will be used by the Contractor for staging and operations for the remainder of construction. The public pool is in need of improvements due to its age and the City is planning for improvement projects through the Capital Improvement Plan such as replacing the liner and drain gutter. The City is also investigating removal of the pool house and the use of temporary facilities until new facilities can be planned and constructed. The pool house replacement is currently identified in the FY 17 Capital Improvements Plan for FY 2022.
  • Question:Will the State Fish Pier activities be impacted?
    No, the State Fish Pier activities will not be impacted by the Peirce Island WWTF Upgrade project. The City is planning for deck maintenance on the Peirce Island Road Bridge and will coordinate these activities with the State.
  • Question: Will Four Tree Island remain open?
    Yes, Four Tree Island will remain open during the course of construction. There will be limited parking on Peirce Island during the course of construction because portions of existing paring areas will be needed for the Contractor's staging and operations. The City is investigating the potential and benefits of expanding the Four Tree Island Parking Lot.


Environmental Impacts

  • Question:How will work be managed when there are PCBs in the existing materials?
    PCBs have been identified in materials in only one building at the existing wastewater treatment facility. This was the original building constructed in 1964. A plan to address the PCBs during construction has been prepared and has been submitted to the EPA. PCB containing materials in the one building where PCBs are present will be removed by a trained specialty hazardous materials abatement subcontractor in accordance with the EPA approved plan. Areas where PCB removal work is conducted will be isolated to contain the materials during the work. The removed PCB wastes will be disposed of at licensed PCB chemical waste landfill.
  • Question:Will there be impacts to the River, wetland or other natural resources?
    No, the upgrade of the wastewater treatment facility will improve the quality of the treated effluent discharged to the Piscataqua River. The quality of the stormwater runoff from the plant site will be improved as stormwater treatment is being added as part of the upgrade. There will be minor temporary impacts to wetlands during construction, and the City has obtained a wetland permit from the NH Department of Environmental Services and is obtaining a NH Department of Environmental Services Alteration of Terrain permit. The City has also obtained a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers for the project under the Programmatic General Permit. The City has complied with the Federal Section 106 Historical Review process related to the existence of Fort Washington on Peirce Island. During construction, the contractor will prepare and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. The existing treatment facility will remain in operation during the construction period in accordance with the facility's NPDES permit.

Economic Impacts


  • Question:Will there be a significant impact on businesses?
    No, the designated haul routes have been identified to minimize the overall impact on the Downtown and the South End. While the additional construction traffic will have an impact it is not anticipated to result in a significant measurable impact on businesses. In addition, the City anticipates an agreement with regulators which would allow for an appropriate construction schedule for this project so as to avoid unnecessary evening and night work and thus minimize noise and other impacts to important evening and weekend cultural and business activities.